In October last year NatWest’s asset finance division, Lombard, launched an online asset finance loan tool that gave instant approval for financing up to £250,000. Athena Chrysanthou speaks to Craig Leyland, Lombard’s head of asset finance, to find out how the tool has been performing.
My Lombard offers customers a personalised instant quote to fund capital investments such as cars, commercial vehicles, agricultural equipment, construction machinery, technology or more specialist tools. The online tool saw 500 accounts launched in its first two months of operating.
Customers create a secure account, submit an online application and await a decision, and once approved they can track the progress of the lease throughout the life of the agreement.
Leyland explains: “The ability we gave them [customers] was to create a bespoke quote based on their individual circumstances and assets they were funding rather than just generic or indicative quotes subject to credit scoring which you traditionally see across the industry.”
He says that customers value the quick affirmation facility which underpins the service as well as offering a degree of transparency about where the agreement is through the process.
“One of the biggest benefits to this, because customers tell us all the time, the one thing they want is the surety that we will lend them the money is being able to actually get a credit decision online, real-time, is something that customers have told us is a massive benefit to them,” he explains.
Edge on the competition
Reaction to the portal has been “overwhelmingly positive” says Leyland, because obtaining an accurate quote and a credit decision that can be tracked in real-time is hard to find in the B2B space.
Leyland says customers “have been telling us they like the ability to be able to communicate with one of our digital experts using our live chat or on the telephone while they are using the new technology. It is creating a seamless omnichannel experience.”
“Their [customers] behaviour is now really heavily influenced by the type of experience they enjoy in the B2C space as consumers themselves. We have built this tool. It is the next step in our digital journey because we want to make it easy for customers to do business with us whether it’s via desktop, telephone or through a mobile device.”
“It aligns to the strategy we are working through … that we are really high tech and high touch, making the use of digital technology and the strength of our relationship management proposition,” he adds.
Back to first principles
In creating the platform, Lombard went back to its grassroots, according to Leyland.
“It is not enough to just digitalise your existing processes so we really needed to think about our processes through the customers’ lenses and then actually redesign our processes in a way that were simple and logical from a customer perspective, which is quite challenging when you have got a mature business that’s used to doing things in a certain way.”
“We have also made a significant investment in our core platform too and that’s part of reinforcing our long-term commitment to both the UK asset finance industry and to our ambition to be the clear market leader in this space,” he adds.
Crystal ball gazing
Leyland says he believes customer expectations will continue to grow in terms of what customers want to achieve digitally.
“I think that’s a fantastic opportunity for the asset finance space and certainly expectations will increase in the future, so we have got a technology investment that’s wider than just our self-serve channel, we are making upgrades to our core platforms and planning on introducing e-signatures, use robotics to create efficiency and speed in the supplier invoice process and increasing our use of AI to help improve the quality and speed of our ‘risk decisioning’ and customer due diligence,” he adds.
“Despite what’s been a fairly benign economic environment, undoubted uncertainty created by delays to Brexit, what we are seeing at Lombard is our customers are continuing to make sensible investment decisions. We have supported them throughout 2019 and we look forward to supporting them again in 2020.”